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Ryan Turek Talks Still Screaming

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Ryan Turek, Editor-in-Chief of Shock Till You Drop and good chum of ours, has been hard at work. Between his upcoming Hellraiser doc and his Scream documentary, Still Screaming: The Ultimate Scary Movie Retrospective, debuting, this is a gent who hasn’t let any grass grow under his feet.

Ryan Turek Talks Still ScreamingAnd we were lucky enough to jabber with him, at great length, about the weird, wild experience of turning the Scream franchise’s story into an engaging feature film, featuring Wes Craven, Neve Campbell, Liev Schreiber, Henry Winkler, Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy, Laurie Metcalf, Parker Posey, Scott Foley and many others.

I think we’ll take the “On:” format for this one. Cool?

And a ONE and a TWO and a…

ON “WHY SCREAM?”

Obviously the first Scream definitely held a lot of strength in my eyes. I was there in film school, New York, in ’96 when it first came out. You know – ‘slasher movie!’ And it’s a terrific send-up of a slasher film. It was also refreshing and new, but what compelled me to do the documentary was, it wasn’t just the first film – it was the stories behind the scenes of the entire trilogy. Because once Scream came out in ’96, I was completely fixed. I wanted to know about Scream 2. Scream 2 kind of hit when the internet was booming, you know? Everybody was on message boards, on these kind of old rinky dink horror movie websites’ message boards talking about spoilers and what was gonna happen, and people were leaking pages of the script, which is one of the first times I’d ever seen that happen. And it greatly affected the production as well! By the time Scream 3 came out, you had movies like The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense kind of raking in big bucks. It was like everybody was going ‘Scream what? Scream who?’ Horror was changing so much, and I was and I’m still fascinated by the series at that point, so I was always curious to see how Scream 3 would handle horror at that point. And Scream 3 is what is it is (laughs), but then I think there is a fascinating story behind it, because (writer) Williamson wasn’t available and all he did was leave them with a treatment, and they had to pull up this new writer Ehren Kruger…and it just sounded like a complete disaster – and trainwrecks like that always make for fascinating behind-the-scenes stories!

ON TACKLING SUCH A PROJECT

“Well…(laughs), I was fairly confident with how I wanted to approach it. On (the) Hellraiser (doc), I was just going to be the writer. That’s a massive undertaking in and of itself because ‘cause you’re not encompassing three movies, you’re looking at eight – or NINE, now – and I was like, well, [we had a] director at the time, ‘He’s got the vision handled, I’ll just write.’ [Writer’s note: Ryan has since taken over directorial duties on the Hellraiser doc]. And when [Still Screaming] came up, it was like ‘Okay, you’re gonna do this – GO!’ And I’m like ‘Holy crap – I know the story that needs to be told, I know the questions I need to ask and who I wanna speak to, but ‘what do I wanna do to make this kinda stand apart from the pack?’ You know, ‘what kind of look do I wanna give it, what do I want for background?’ I had to start thinking visually, and I kind of sketch and illustrate once in a while – that’s my background while I was in middle school, I used to illustrate all the time and that carried through to high school and college and I just sort of like sketching things out visually what I want to see.”

ON RAISING THE DOC’S CURTAIN, SCREAM STYLE

Writer’s note: Too many spoilers here for something that sounds way too fun to spoil. Just know that Turek busted his ass to make this thing as entertaining as possible.

ON HIS ORIGINAL VISION vs. THE FINAL PRODUCT

“I love to be fully prepared for everything. I love to outline – really break it down and the kind of beats that I want to get into. What I originally outlined was pretty lengthy. And it got really fan-boy specific. Where I was I was thinking ‘I wanna know this and I wanna know that!’ I was making beats in an outline, thinking ‘This is gonna be the section where we specifically talk about the sequence at the end of Scream where Neve Campbell falls out the window and she runs over to a barn or she’s running from some place, and I’m like ‘There looks like there’s a missing scene there, or we MUST get behind that missing scene and what is it about?’ Then I talk to Wes Craven and he’s like ‘No, I was just cheating. I needed something for her to run THIS way and instead she ran THAT way.’ I was like, ‘Oh! Well, there goes that portion of the outline!’ Sometimes, the things you play up in your mind to be you think are gonna be super-big are not that big at all. And you’ve really just got to get to the meat of it. You’ve gotta find out what’s the most interesting thing that you can tell within this certain span of time. Granted there’s a lot of deleted stuff that we’re gonna eventually have [on the DVD] – just anecdotal stories – but they’re not anything that’s worth your time, so looking at the large outline, which I was doing, and looking at the final product, it’s changed a lot. And I have to thank our editor Monica for delivering the harsh truth. I’d come in on a day and say ‘What do we got?’ and she’d say ‘Well, we had to cut this story.’ I’d be like ‘NO!’ But when you’d watch [a delete scene], it disrupts the flow of things. ‘Why am I going from this story to a silly aside?’

ON THE WILLIAMSON ABSENCE

”We were going to really tell the Kevin Williamson story. Unfortunately, Kevin didn’t make himself available, so I’m left going ‘Okay, you’re gonna take a backseat in this film,’ which kind of sucked… We tried to get him, and at every turn we got a polite ‘no, thanks.’ So there’s nothing I could really do.”

ON OTHER NOTABLY UNFORTUNATE ABSENCES

“Yeah, I speak to [and] use a site called Scream Trilogy they have a great fan forum on their message boards. And a lot of people ask me ‘Where’s Skeet Ulrich and where’s Sarah Michelle Gellar?’ And the truth of the matter is, we went out to EVERYBODY. We went out to everybody in the series. Jada Pinkett Smith, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Skeet Ulrich… But there’s just people that didn’t wanna do it. You can’t really press them, because if you press them then you look too desperate – you look like an asshole! But we tried repeatedly to get Skeet and Skeet was on a TV show. And then, I believe, a couple of days after that TV show got canned, I kind of politely checked in with his reps again to see if he would have the time to do it, but…a lot of it was scheduling. Well, a lot of it was just disinterest! You know, Sarah Michelle Gellar had absolutely NO interest, I think. Her people were, like, immediately ‘No. No, thank you.’ And I was like, ‘okay.’ Jada Pinkett Smith sounded interested, but she was travelling – she was like halfway around the world. Drew Barrymore was receptive, but she was up in Alaska, and we said ‘We’ll come to Alaska!’ And we were fully prepared to! We were fully prepared to go meet her in Alaska, but she just wanted to focus on her film. Then when she got back, we had a great dialogue with her people, and it just a matter of she is just crazy busy and she is just unavailable right now. So a lot of it you can chalk up to people not being available and some of it you can just chalk it up to people just not being interested in recounting anything about the series – which, again, is unfortunate.”

ON “MEETING” THE VOICE OF GHOSTFACE, ROGER JACKSON

“Roger was incredibly cool. People have said that he didn’t want to be on camera. I guess he’s based up in northern California, and we were like ‘well, we’ll come out.’ And he’s done an interview for E! Hollywood Story about a decade ago, and the way they handled it was they did the old 60 Minutes veiled interview where the interviewee is darkened and the background is all lit up so you can’t see their face. They did that for him so you couldn’t see his face, because he wants to remain a mystery. He doesn’t want anyone to know what he looks like. Because when he calls [all] the actors on Scream, they don’t see what he looks like. Neve Campbell’s never met him face-to-face. He’s always somewhere else on the phone. So he likes that – he likes to remain anonymous. So I anticipated doing the same thing [for the interview], but he agreed to just doing a phone interview, so I did a phone interview and I was like, ‘well, visually, I’ll have to figure out how to make this work,’ and we did. But when I got [Jackson’s] call on a weekday afternoon, he called me in full Ghostface voice (laughs). I just picked the phone and was like ‘Hello?’ and he’s ‘Is this Ryan?…’ I was like ‘HOLY SHIT!’ And then ‘What’s your favorite scary movie, Ryan?’ I was scrambling trying to get my recorder going! He was absolutely great – he’s got some great stories to tell. His stories on 1 were great and his stories on 2 harassing Sarah Michelle Gellar were even better. It was fun!”

ON INTERVIEWING THE CLOAKED CRAZIES

“We were even able to go behind the mask to the guys who played Ghostface – the guys that are actually running around and tripping and falling. We tracked down a guy named Dane Farwell who was the stunt performer – he was all through 1 and he was in 4 as well. These guys are just seasoned stunt performers and I think this is the first time that any of them have ever come out and spoken about it. Dane was originally apprehensive because he didn’t want to give away the illusion that it was not Skeet Ulrich or Matthew Lillard in the first film in that Ghostface costume. He didn’t want to take that away from them. He was like ‘Oh, I don’t really want people to know that was me.’ I was like ‘NO!’ That would be like Kane Hodder saying ‘I don’t want people to know I’m not Jason.’ And it took a little bit of convincing. I said ‘Dude, people DO care about the kind of craft that goes behind creating a cool onscreen villain, and Ghostface does have his little quirks.’ He does have his little motions and he wipes his blade off every time he kills somebody… And the fans wanna know the stories that go behind those [motions]. Brian Avery, who played Ghostface in 3 had some equally great stories, from killing Jenny McCarthy to doubling for David Arquette during some of the stunt scenes.”

ON WES CRAVEN’S INCLUSION

“Wes was incredibly cool about sitting down in a chair not just to tell you about the first film – which I’m sure he’s tired of discussing – but all three. We got to hour two in the chair and he’s like ‘Let’s just finish this up, let’s get this going. Let’s cover ‘em all and get all the bases covered.’ So he was very honest and open and he was great.”

Turek humbly insists that he just hopes the documentary “doesn’t disappoint”, but something tells us that’s a non-issue. Check back here soon for updates on Turek’s expansive Hellraiser project!

For more check out the Still Screaming: The Ultimate Scary Movie Retrospective Facebook page.

Ryan Turek Talks Still Screaming

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Night of the Living Dead 4K and The Silence of the Lambs Come to the Criterion Collection

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It’s been a long time coming for these two classics, especially Night of the Living Dead after the ridiculously bad transfer put out by Mill Creek Entertainment, whose transfer was supposedly remastered from a new 2K scan. I swear I thought it was some kind of a joke when I first put it on to watch. In any event…

IndieWire is reporting that horror classics Night of the Living Dead and The Silence of the Lambs will be added to the 2018 Criterion Collection, a hallmark label for home video cinephiles.

According to the site, Criterion will release a new 4K digital restoration of The Silence of the Lambs, which has been approved by the movie’s cinematographer Tak Fujimoto. Included on the DVD and Blu-ray sets are 35 minutes of deleted scenes and audio commentary from 1994 featuring the late Jonathan Demme (director), stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, screenwriter Ted Tally, and former FBI agent John Douglas.

Night of the Living Dead will also be released in 4K with never-before-seen 16mm dailies included as a bonus feature(!).

These will be added in February of 2018 so make sure you save up some cash after the holidays!

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DIS Review – Not for the Faint of Heart!

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Starring Bill Oberst, Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon

Directed by Adrian Corona


I’ve made this claim many a time on this website before, and in the company of film friends as well: Bill Oberst Jr. is one of those actors that can literally be thrust into ANY role, and deliver a performance with so much harnessed electricity that you couldn’t believe that it was possible. I was the lucky recipient chosen to get a look at his latest project, titled DIS, and I think that I can honestly say – this is the stuff that nightmares are constructed of.

Directed by Adrian Corona, this 60-minute dive into the black depths of hell, and in actuality DIS is located between circles # 6 and 9 in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and trust me when I tell you – there’s not a shred of comedic relief in this demented presentation. Oberst Jr plays an ex-soldier named Ariel, and his seemingly harmless jaunt through the woods will become anything but that, and judging from the film’s opening scenes, you are meant to feel as uncomfortable about this watch as any you might have checked out in recent memory.

Perversion is the norm here, and lord help you if you’re caught where you shouldn’t be…my skin’s crawling just thinking about what I saw. Ariel’s travels are basically dialogue-free, but it only adds to the infinite levels of creepiness – you can tell he’s being stalked, and the distance between he and the horrors that await are closing in rather quickly.

Visually by itself, this hour-long chiller can sell tickets without any assistance – hollowed-out buildings and long sweeping shots of a silent forest give the movie that look of complete desolation. Sliced up into three acts, the film wastes no time in setting up the story of a killer needing fresh blood to appease his Mandrake garden – seriously guys, I can’t type as much flashy stuff as there needs to be in order to describe this innately disturbing production.

If you’re one of those types who tends to shy away from the graphic side of things, then I’d HIGHLY advise you to keep your TV tuned to the Hallmark Channel for some holiday entertainment, because this one registers high on the “I can’t believe someone thought of this” meter. So the quick recap is this: Oberst Jr in a standout performance, visual excellence, and an unshakable sense of debasement on a cellular level – keep the kiddies out of the living room with this one. Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended, and one that I’ll throw down as a top 5 for me in 2017.

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4.5

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Director Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended!

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Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End Review – A Heavy Metal Massacre In Cartoon Form

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Starring Alex House, Bill Turnbull, Maggie Castle, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Jason Mewes

Directed by Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace


“Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil” – Canadian television’s greatest blend of Evil Dead, Superbad and Deathgasm? Yes. That answer is yes. For two face-melting seasons, Todd “protected” Crowley High from episodic villains who were bested by metal riffs, stoner logic and hormonal companionship. Musical interruptions showcased stage theatrics like Sondheim meets pubescent Steel Panther and high school tropes manifested into vile, teen-hungry beasts. It was like a coming-of-age story got stuck between Fangoria pages – all the awkwardness with 100x more guts.

That – for worse – was until Todd fell to a premature cancellation after Season 2’s clone-club cliffhanger. Indiegogo became the show’s only way to deliver a feature-length finale, except to reduce costs and ensure completion, the project would have to be in cartoon form. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End suggests an animated curtain call for this otherwise live-action production, and from a fan’s perspective, familiar maturation follies befall our favorite bloodsoaked friend group. But for new viewers? Start with the far-superior original show – you’ll be lost, underwhelmed and baffled otherwise.

Alex House retains his characterization of Todd Smith (in voice only). At this point, Todd has thwarted the book’s apocalyptic plan, Hannah (Melanie Leishman) has died, longtime crush Jenny (Maggie Castle) isn’t as horny for Todd anymore, and best friend Curtis (Bill Turnbull) has sworn Todd’s name to Hell (since Hannah was his girlfriend). Guidance Counselor Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins) is now Janitor Atticus Murphy Jr. because Janitor Jimmy (Jason Mewes) is now Counselor Jimmy, yet Crowley High finds itself plagued by the same satanic uprisings despite these new changes. Why is evil still thriving! How is Hannah back in class! Who is the new “Pure Evil One” now that Todd has denied the book! Welcome to the end, friends – or is it a new beginning?

At just north of 80 minutes, structure runs a bit jagged. We’re used to Todd battling one baddie over a half-hour block – backstory given time to breathe – but in The End Of The End, two mini-boss cretins play second fifth-fiddle to the film’s big-bad monster (well, monsters – but you’ll see). A double-dose of high school killers followed by a larger, more important battle with the gang’s fate hanging in the balance. Not a problem, it’s just that more length is spent singing songs about Todd’s non-functioning schlong and salvaging relationships from the S2 finale. Exposition (what little there is) chews into necessary aggression time – fans left ravenous for more versatile carnage, underwhelmed by the umpteenth cartoon erection gag. Did I mention there’s a lot of boner material, yet?

These two mini “chapters” – “No Vest For The Wicked” (yarn demon)/”Zits Alors” (acid acne) – never come close to rivaling Hannah Williams’ doppelganger bombshell (“Songs About Boners”/”This Is The End Of The End Of the End”). Hannah [X]. Williams waking up in a room full of other Hannahs, emerging from some sleep-pod chamber; Todd’s gang facing off against this new “chosen one” in a way that erases “Sack Boy” and “Pizza Face” from memory. The End Of The End dashes dildoes-swinging into the show’s biggest mystery while dropping call-backs and bodies with equal speed – maybe too hastily for some.

Now, about the whole pivot to animation – a smooth rendering of Crowley High and all its mayhem, but never representative of Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil‘s very Ash Vs. Evil Dead vibe. All the practical death effects (gigantic man-eating cakes, zombie rockstars) are lost to one-dimensional drawings, notable chemistry between cast members replaced by edited recordings lacking signature wits. This isn’t Metalocalypse, where dismemberment and bloodshed are gruesome on levels that outshine even live-action horror flicks. There’s no denying some of the magic is missing without Chris Leavins’ “creepy uncle” overacting (a Will Forte breed) or the book’s living incarnations of evil. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End plays hooded minion to Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil’s dark ruler – less powerful, a bit duncier, but still part of the coolest cult around. Just try not to think about how much radness is missing inside hand-traced Crowley High?

It’s hard not to strike comparisons between “reality” and ‘toon, because as noted above, live actors are sorely missed in a plethora of situations. Be they musical numbers, heretic slayings, Todd and Curtis’ constant references to wanking, wangs or other pelvic nods (no, for real, like every other sentence) – human reactions no longer temper such aggressive, self-gratifying cocksmanship. It doesn’t help that songs never reach the memorable level of “Horny Like The Devil,” but the likes of House, Leishman, Turnbull and Castle were masters of selling schlock, shock and Satan’s asshole of situations. Instead, lines now land flat like – for example – Leavins’ lessened ability to turn pervy, stalkerish quips into hilarious underage stranger-dangers. Again, it’s not Metalocalypse – and without that kind of designer depth, a wall prevents inter-dimensional immersion into Todd’s extracurricular madness.

If this review sounds over-negative, fret not – it’s merely wishes of what could have been. None of this is to say Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End should be skipped. When you’re already known for masterstrokes of ballbusting immaturity, metal-horned malevolence and vicious teen-angst creature vanquishing, expectations are going to be sky high. Directors Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace successfully service fans with a smile, ensuring that rivers of red scribbled blood spurt from decapitated school children just like we’re used to. It’s just, I mean – ugh, sorry, I just have to say it one more time. BY DIMEBAG’S BEARD, this would have been an epic live-action flick. As is? Still one fine-with-a-capital-F-YEAH return to Crowley High for the faithful who’ve been waiting some 5-or-so years in a Todd-less purgatory.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End brings closure to hungry fans in all the ways they’d hope – albeit turned down a notch through animation. Over-the-top kills and headbanging metal riffs still reign supreme, they’re just drawn by hand instead of oozing practical effects this time.

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User Rating 3.11 (9 votes)
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